David TC Davies accused of ‘failing in his duties’ on disused coal tips monitoring
Secretary of State for Wales David TC Davies is facing mounting criticism after it was revealed he failed to sign up to a joint letter with the Welsh Government regarding disused coal tips.
Last month the Welsh Government published the updated number of disused coal tips across Wales (2566) and the locations of all 350 tips with the potential to impact public safety.
Regular inspections monitor any maintenance works that may be required, and the Welsh Government has made available £44.4 million to local councils to carry out works on both public and privately owned tips.
During FMQs this week, Mark Drakeford accused the Conservative MP for Monmouth of not being a voice for Wales on issues such as money from HS2 and cash to make coal tips safe.
The First Minister said: “Had he been prepared to add his voice instead of refusing to sign letters alongside me as he agreed in the last meeting of the coal tip safety committee, maybe we would have had that money, but we don’t have a voice for us speaking up for Wales.”
Delyth Jewell MS, Plaid Cymru Spokesperson on Climate Change told Nation.Cymru she had queried why Mr Davies had not co-signed a letter regarding coal tip inspections and maintenance with the First Minister.
She said she was told that Secretary of State for Wales had co-chaired the coal tip safety summit for some considerable time.
The Plaid Cymru MS also said she received a letter sent by the First Minister to MSs and MPs which stated: “For the record, I should add that the original intention was for this letter to be sent jointly with the Secretary of State for Wales, as agreed and recorded at the coal tip summit, but he now prefers not to add his name.”
Ms Jewell said: “I am disappointed that the Secretary of State for Wales decided not to add his name to the Welsh Government’s recent letter, as had been agreed and recorded at the coal tip summit.
“Coal tips, of course, are a legacy of our nation’s industrial history – which predates devolution. The UK Government must bear some of these costs.
“With the likelihood that the costs will increase with the impact of climate change, and the potential to further destabilise these tips, it’s clear that this is far more than a safety issue: it is a matter of historical, social and climate justice.”
Plaid Cymru’s Westminster Leader Liz Saville Roberts MP has tabled a written question to the Secretary of State for Wales asking why he has not signed the joint letter from the Welsh Government.
Liz Saville Roberts said: “This is a clear failure by the Secretary of State to fulfil the duties expected of his office. What is the point of the office of the Secretary of State for Wales if he cannot stand up for Wales?
“The Secretary of State for Wales is once again showing that he is Westminster’s man in Wales, rather than Wales’s man in Westminster.
“This is yet another example of a broken Westminster system not working for Wales.”
During PMQs this week, Rishi Sunak was asked to fund the removal of potentially dangerous coal tips in Wales but instead shifted the topic to electrifying the North Wales Main Line.
Responding to Plaid Cymru’s comments, Mr Davies said: “As Welsh Secretary my number one priority is to stand up for the interests of Wales.
“Under the UK Conservative Government, Wales has received more than £1 billion in Levelling Up investment, in addition to other investments including £790 million in City and Growth Deals.
“As Plaid Cymru knows perfectly well, coal tips is a devolved matter, meaning it is the full responsibility of the Labour Welsh Government. Yet in response to Storm Dennis the Welsh Government received £31 million, of which £9 million was to repair vulnerable coal tips.
“In a recent meeting with the First Minister, I clearly said that I would await to see the content of the proposed letter. It may be the accepted norm for some governments and political parties to sign blank cheques without first knowing the details – but that is not what I do.
“My other role as Welsh Secretary is to hold the Labour Welsh Government – currently propped up by Plaid Cymru – to account.
“If Plaid Cymru thinks there needs to be more money for coal tips, then they need to re-think their support for the Welsh Government’s £120-million spending spree on creating more Members of the Senedd and £33 million on imposing a 20mph default speed limit.”
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